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Best Backpacking Backpacks: Being Prepared for Your Next Adventure

best backpacks on the bench
Henry Silva
Written by Henry Silva

From road trips to hikes, and everything in between, a durable backpack is a basic necessity. Especially if your adventure includes you being outdoors for an extended period of time, such as going on a backpacking trip.

But how do you find the best backpacking backpacks and what features should you look for? There are a number of options out there and your best plan of action when looking for the right fit is to assess your needs first. Ask yourself questions such as where will you be backpacking?

How many supplies will you need to take with you? How long is your trip? Shopping for a backpack with the details of your trip in mind will help you determine which features to look for. You should also have an idea of what you want to pack.

Product NameWeight (ounces)Capacity (Liters)PocketsPrice
Kelty Redwing59.2501 interior slip pocket and 7 interior zip pocketsCheck price on Amazon
High Sierra Appalachian92.875Roomy dual zippered side pocketsCheck price on Amazon
Osprey Kestrel58.948Extensive pockets, two zippered hip belt pockets, front and side stretch mesh pockets, under-lid and top-lid zippered pocketsCheck price on Amazon
Gregory Baltoro81.675 (Medium)Hip belt, pocket & Twin side-mounted zippered gear pocketsCheck price on Amazon
Granite Gear VC35.260Large stretch side and front pocketsCheck price on Amazon
Deuter Futura Pro62.442Bellow pocket, two hip belt zippered pockets, SOS label lid pocket, stretch outer pocket, double waist belt pocketsCheck price on Amazon
Gregory Deva88 (Medium)71 (Medium)Dual waist belt pockets, 2 side pockets, large front pocketCheck price on Amazon
Mountainsmith Apex96100Right side angled water bottle pocketCheck price on Amazon

Things to Consider Before Buying

A backpacking backpack is the most important gear for any out-of-doors adventure. It provides you with a means of carrying all the necessary gear and weaponry you will need. However, you need to choose wisely to buy the most useful model. Here are the major considerations you have to make:

Weight and Capacity

The pack you select should not be too heavy to the extent that your back cannot support the weight. Therefore, settle for a pack that has a reasonable weight and capacity for your body size.

Frame Choice

You have to choose between an external and internal frame. External frames are mostly useful for hunting.

hikers with backpacks that have external frames

Settle for an internal frame if you are going hiking or camping. Make sure the frame is made of lightweight material such as aluminum.

Material & Construction

You need a pack made of quality materials for it to last long enough for you to see the worth of your investment. Backpacking backpacks have dissimilar constructions. There are some that have more compartments and pockets than others.

Reliable Strapping System

A backpack can have numerous great features, but it will do you no good if it has a poor strapping system. This is so since comfort and stability depends on the straps. Check for quality hip belts and shoulder straps.

Best Products on Today’s Market

As you’re researching which backpack is best for you, make sure you read reviews of the ones you’re interested in. Look for what people say about durability, weight, size, materials and special specifications. Here’s some information on a few great choices:

Kelty Redwing Backpack

kelty redwing

Price: approx. $100

Weight: 3 lb

Dimensions: 26 x 16 x 12 in, fits torsos that are 15.5 – 21 in.

Specific features: Polyester fabric, imported, top loading backpack with convertible top lid, side pockets with zip closure, a front pouch, zippered front pockets, Perfect Fit suspension, HEX Mesh back panel, and the HDPE frame sheet.

Best use: All day hikes.

Description: The Kelty Redwing Backpack is by Kelty brand, which is a very popular choice. These backpacks are great for all day hikes and even easy-going overnight adventures. The multipurpose Redwing 50 Hiking Backpack is the newest edition of the Redwing line of Kelty backpacks.

It’s a great option for international travel as well. Some people even use it as a carry-on bag, in addition to outdoor adventures. It includes features such as the perfect fit suspension, providing customized comfort and accurate body adjustments, with just 3 easy steps for a great fit.

It also Features a load lifter strap and has an interior pocket and seven interior zippered pockets. The convertible top lid can also be used as a sling pack. You don’t have to do an extensive search for a resourceful backpack; Kelty Redwing offers you more than enough capacity for your backpacking items.

PROS:

  • Well-organized backpack
  • Lightweight for light packing
  • Made of durable materials
  • It is an affordable pack with numerous features
  • Hybrid loading and top loading
  • It has ergonomic straps that are easy to adjust
  • Pass-through pockets that are easy to use

CONS:

  • No lockable zippers
  • Few travel features
  • The aluminum stay is difficult to remove

Related: Kelty also sells the Kelty Rain Cover. This cover will safeguard your pack and its content from light rains and humid conditions. The cover is lightweight, waterproof, and easy to stow. It is the ideal choice because it is compatible with large fits packs and medium fits packs.

Check the price on Amazon

High Sierra Appalachian

high sierra alpachian

Price: approx. $90

Weight: 5.8 lb

Dimensions: 10.3 x 34 x 14.3 in.

Specific features: One size, expedition-sized backpack, tuck away rain cover, top load main compartment, internal hydration reservoir, drop bottom sleeping bag compartment, soft lashing hardware, ERGO-FIT shoulder harness, side and back compression straps, adjustable sternum strap, molded foam back panel, and adjustable contoured aluminum frame bars.

Best use: Extended trips and skiing trips.

Description: The High Sierra Appalachian expedition sized backpack has room to accommodate everything you need. No matter what type of adventure you have ahead of you, this backpack’s versatility guarantees you’ll be prepared for it. The pack is made of quality materials and design, making it durable, ergonomic and user-friendly.

With a lot of positive feedback, some of the things people love best about this backpack are its durability, the roomy sleeping bag compartment, and the two separate compartments on the very top of the bag. Some people have even used this backpack for road trips and international; travel.

A cost efficient option, this backpack is perfect for an array of extended trips, including expeditions. Generally, the pack is well-built, resourceful and versatile when you consider the price. It is the ideal backpack to buy if you have a limited budget and you are in need of a high performing pack.

PROS:

  • It is made of quality and durable materials
  • The design is ergonomic and user-friendly
  • It is fitted with molded foam back panel that ensures your back stays dry and cool
  • The single contoured frame bar made of aluminum is easy to adjust
  • Multiple colors, including black, brick, mercury, and true navy

CONS:

  • If not packed correctly, the room separator may rupture

Related: The High Sierra Appalachian Pack is frequently bought together with LE Headlamp. The lamp is a good addition to your backpacking gear, especially when you are engaged in an overnight outdoor expedition.

Check the price on Amazon

Osprey Kestrel Backpack

osprey kestrel

Price: $130 – $180

Weight: 4 lb

Dimensions: 15 x 28 x 16 in.

Specific features: 210D nylon ripstop (double diamond), an integrated & removable rain cover, trekking pole attachment, zippered sleeping bag compartment, and an external reservoir sleeve.

Best use: 3 day trip.

Description: The Osprey Kestrel Backpack is a pack that you could say does it all. It features a separate sleeping bag compartment that zips shut and includes exterior sleeping straps, making it a great, practical overnight backpack.

The straightjacket compression straps on the sides allow you to cinch everything down for a great day out hiking in the high country. The frame of the backpack is light and allows you to transfer your load to the hip belt.

Between the transfer of weight and the air scape panel pack, you’re ensured to have all day carrying comfort. When it’s time to pack or unpack, the backpack’s main pack compartment features zippered side or top load access. Typically, you find a lot of backpacks feature just a top loading area. This versatility allows you to access several ways to get to your things, without struggling.

There are additional storage features as well. There’s a vertical side pocket, under lid zippered pocket and top lid zippered pocket. There are also front and side stretch pockets along with two hip belt pockets that zip.

In addition to the extensive number of pockets, there are double daisy chains located on the front and the top lid have web attachment points. This allows you to anchor some of your gear to the exterior. There are even more useful features than that.

The exterior hydration sleeve, ice tool hoops and Osprey’s innovative trekking pole storage area to ensure you’ll have everything you need. On top of that, you can protect your entire backpack from rough weather by using the included rain cover.

PROS:

  • It is made of high quality 210D nylon ripstop double diamond material
  • Fitted with side zipped access that allows easy entry into the main compartment
  • You can easily get hold of your sleeping through the backpack’s bottom
  • Comes with a removable rain cover that keeps your gear dry
  • Loading and unloading of the hydration reservoir is made easy by the external reservoir sleeve

CONS:

  • The floating fabric situated on the shoulder strap tends to migrate

Related: Along with the backpack you can buy the Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir and Osprey Ultralight Roll Organizer. The reservoir is one of the best models for external sleeves, especially in loaded packs. The organizer has multiple pockets that provided you with enough room for specific gear.

Check the price on Amazon

Gregory Baltoro Backpack

gREGORY backpack

Price: $240 – $560

Weight: 5.1 lb

Dimensions: 22 x 17 x 12 in.

Specific features: Hydration compatible; compression straps & trekking pole loops; hideaway, hip belt, side, front, and lid water bottle pockets; removable lumbar pack lid; auto-flit hip belt & auto-cant harness; 3D pre-curved harness; response A3 suspension; and hip belt w/ LifeSpan EVA foam.

Best use: Extended trips (3+ days).

Description: The Gregory Baltoro Backpack’s previous version won multiple awards, so you know this line of packs has some great features. The Baltoro 75 now has even better functionality within its specifications such as more internal space, and the suspension was updated.

The A3 suspension adapts to your surrounding terrain and your body automatically. That makes this roomy, multi-purpose pack feel light, even when it’s loaded to full capacity. The pack features lumbar tune, for supporting your lower back and a color coordinated rain cover for keeping your gear dry.

The careful placement of features and organization will help you keep your hikes or camping trips simple. Great for extended trips, as well as short ones, this backpack is a top choice. It also features SideKick that can be used as a daypack or hydration sleeve, and a WeatherShield to protect your supplies that can be easily damaged.

PROS:

  • Made of quality and durable material
  • Ease of access makes packing and unpacking easy
  • Zippered compartment are easy to access
  • Sufficient lower back support for comfort and stability
  • Very comfortable shoulder straps
  • The weight of the pack is distributed evenly on the hip area

CONS:

  • No warranty info
  • Heavier than expected

Related: Even though the pack comes with an integrated rain cover, you can still buy the Gregory Accessories Raincover as a backup in case the pre-installed one is damaged. This particular rain cover is recommended because it is compatible, inexpensive and spacious to fit all the required gear.

Check the price on Amazon

Granite Gear VC Backpack

granite gear crown

Price: $20 – $40

Weight: 2.2 lb

Dimensions: 22 x 17 x 12 in.

Specific features: COORDUURA fabrics, vapor current suspension, padding rolling, stay, extended overflow crossover straps, large stretch side & front pockets, internal hydration sleeve && hydration ports, tool loops, Lineloc compression, and interchangeable belts.

Best use: Multiple day excursions, long hikes.

Description: The Granite Gear VC Backpack is the follow-up to the popular Granite Gear Vapor Trail, but with a lot of great upgrades. The Crown 60 has the vapor current suspension and at 2lbs it weighs even less than its predecessor, the Vapor Trail. The Crown 60 is a top loading backpack.

It features a roll-top closure for security as well as providing quick access. The Lineloc lid (optional) upgrades the simple lidless design. Vapor Current is Granite Gear’s latest suspension technology. It has ventilation channels built into the comfortable back pad.

These channels provide evaporative cooling by allowing air to circulate from the bottom of the pack to the top, by means of convection. The purpose of this is to facilitate circulation, without causing the backpack’s center of gravity to shift from your back. The Vapor Current’s full length frame extends up to the load lifters and supports up to 35 lb. loads.

Additionally, the backpack can be used for very light loads, when the frame is removed. The shoulder straps and belt straps have dual density lining, with slender, updated webbing straps. The shoulder strap also features an elastic mesh pocket that’s built in.

Additionally, the belt can accommodate Granite Gear’s hip belt pockets (optional). The Vapor Current backpacks are non-adjustable (which might be a con to some) torso backpacks.

PROS:

  • The high quality Cordura and ripstop fabrics make the pack durable and easy to maintain
  • The pack’s swappable hip belt allows you to adjust the pack to the correct size
  • You can attach additional gear to the top and outside of the backpack because of ample side compression
  • Multiple pockets provide enough storage space

CONS:

  • The torso length of the backpack is too short

Related: Granite also sells Granite Gear One Size Lineloc Lid and Granite Gear Park Harness Pockets. These two accessories will provide you with more storage space and convenience. You can actually stash your phone and other frequently used gear in the shoulder strap pocket.

Check the price on Amazon

Deuter Futura Pro Backpack

deuter futura pro

Price: approx. $130

Weight: 3.13 lb

Dimensions: 28 x 13 x 11 in.

Specific features: 600 den Polyester thread, fabric and 420D & 210D nylon for hard wearing parts; comfort combination carry system; side compression straps for stability; ultra-flat shoulder strap; load adjustment strap; and lightweight and flexible frame.

Best use: Shorter trips, 1 or 2 days.

Description: The Deuter Futura Pro Backpack has an Aircomfort Pro System made up of three main elements. This pack is a spacious, versatile, resourceful, and reliable companion for day trips as well as extended multi-day hikes. There’s the Aircomfort technology ventilation on top, excellent load transferring capability and the pivoting hip belt.

This backpack features a compressed, structurally formed VariFlex belt for the hips, with an extensive air mesh cover. You can easily tighten the hip belt with the pull closure and it includes side compression hip belt straps.

Additional features include the structurally cut widespread shoulder straps for load adjustment, the bellows pockets on the sides, top lid pocket and zippered pocket on the front. It also has an inner pocket for valuables, stretch pockets on the exterior, and a pocket for wet laundry. With so many useful features, this backpack is bound to make travelling on your adventure easy.

PROS:

  • The flexible, durable and lightweight steel frame is a perfect fit that offers great maneuverability and carry comfort.
  • You can adjust the pack to a specific position by using the load adjustment straps, and stabilize it with the side compression straps.
  • The ergonomically back design is floating and offers superb ventilation.

CONS:

  • The pack volume is not sufficient for someone who is backpacking large

Related: The pack is frequently bought together with the Deuter Streamer Hydration Reservoir. This hydration kit is recommended because it is leakproof, has a taste-free tube and taste-free bladder. The kit also allows you to drink repeatedly during your hike, thus keeping you hydrated.

Check the price on Amazon

Gregory Deva Backpack

gregory deva

Price: $240 – $350

Weight: 3.6 lb

Dimensions: 22 x 15 x 7 in.

Specific features: Nylon fabric; response AFS suspension system; multiple sizes (large (74L), medium (71L), and small (69L)); dual waist belt pockets, 2 side pockets, and large front pocket; and feminine colors.

Best use: Multi-day camping trips.

Description: The durable and quality Gregory Deva Backpack is great for the high performance hikers out there. Because of features such as its 70 liter capacity and dynamic suspension (Response A3 for Women), WeatherShield hip belt pocket and U-zip main compartment access, this backpack has great functionality.

It’s highly regarded for its great back support, making it easier and more comfortable to carry heavy loads. It also includes shoulder harness and hip belt for comfortable fit. From extended winter trips to day adventures and more, this high volume backpack, specifically for women, out performs a lot of its competitors.

It has multiple pockets, including dual waist belt pockets, 2 side pockets, and large front pocket for stowing additional gear. In addition, the pack’s design is highly ergonomic as well as user-friendly because it is easy to use and maintain. The feminine color and design are perfect for women going camping or hiking.

PROS:

  • The design, response AFS suspension system and feminine color make it the ideal pack for women.
  • Available in large (74L), medium (71L), and small (69L). So you can conveniently choose the right capacity for your gear.
  • It is available in different colors, including bodega blue, Seneca rock and sepia gray.
  • The pack will fit your hip angle by design because of the rotating waist-belt mechanism.

CONS:

  • The waist strap buckle may crumble

Related: To keep yourself hydrated during your outdoor adventures, we recommend checking out the Gregory Hydration Bladder.

Check the price on Amazon

Mountainsmith Apex Backpack

apex 100

Price: approx. $200

Weight: 6 lb

Dimensions: 11.75 x 9 x 31 in.

Specific features: Quality materials; top compression gear strap; horizontal stabilizer bar and PE frame sheet with X configuration; front panel stretch mesh pocket; forward pull waist belt; Anvil Airway ridge EVA back panel padding; TuningFork waistbelt framesheet; and U-shaped zip access to the main compartment.

Best use: Extended trips.

Description: The Apex Backpack is the Mountainsmith largest backpack. It’s great for any adventure, including full-on expeditions, to day trips, or family backpacking trips. To ensure you can carry loads as heavy as 70 pounds if need be, there’s an aluminum stay with a horizontal bar.

The EVA padding by Anvil Airway, gives you cushion, in addition to nice ventilated airflow. The Tuning Fork waist belt provides a secure and comfortable hold. Additionally, it is adjustable so you can be sure to have a proper fit, without risking pain or injuries.

The backpack is top loading and even has an extra front panel, providing additional access to get to your gear. There’s also a bottom compartment for sleeping bags. The Apex 100 also features an inner sleeve and pockets on the side for water bottles. It even comes with pockets on the waist belt that can be used to hold your phone.

PROS:

  • Made of durable 305D multi-rip HP Cordura and other quality materials for extended durability.
  • The pack’s capacity is enough for long-distance backpacking, including long trails, thru-hikes, and extended journeys.
  • Filled with intuitive features, making the pack convenient and a smart solution for backpacking large.
  • The pack comes with a lifetime warranty, meaning that its durability is unrivaled.

CONS:

  • It is fitted with limited compartments.

Related: Mountainsmith also sells the Mountainsmith Backpack Rain Cover. This kit is recommended for safeguarding the contents of your pack from light rains and humid conditions. The rain cover is specifically made for the pack; so, you will not have any compatibility issues.

Check the price on Amazon

The Wrap Up

It is that you choose the appropriate backpacking backpack that meets your entire requirement. Failure to, you may end up with a poor-fitting pack that is uncomfortable to backpack or carry. The advice and list of product review we have provided should help you with your purchase.

Did we inspire you to buy one of the reviewed backpacks? If so, let us know how the pack performed and if you had any difficulties using it, in the comments below?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Henry Silva
Henry Silva

Henry was hiking since he was 4. He was lucky enough to be born in Boulder, Colorado and enjoy Rocky Mountain National Park hikes growing up. His favourite is Longs Peak, which rises to 14,259 feet (4,346 m) above sea level. It is the highest point of the park. Henry likes to explore new hikes and spend his spare time in the wilderness.

  • Joyce Grant

    My High Sierra Appalachian 75 comes with plenty of room to fit in all my hiking gear. It is durable so you can fill it up with no worry and the water holder is comfortably located so you can easily reach it. The straps were however a bit uncomfortable across by chest and even adjusting them did not help much. It had me feeling that it was designed more for a male body.

  • Henry Silva

    Some even had issues with its weight, but the High Sierra has been a trusted brand throughout the years. I think it all boils down to the right fit – both for the user and the backpack. The straps are really crucial so before purchasing, it may be necessary to try it on to see how your body adjusts to it.

  • Matt Gibson

    The Kelty brand is very fast becoming my family’s favorite brand for camping gear. We have their sleeping bags, tents and backpacks. The Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack has amazing quality and lots of pockets to keep my camping essentials organized. It is almost impossible for our teenage daughters to like the same things as us but even they love their Kelty backpacks

  • Henry Silva

    One of my friends own a Kelty backpack that also doubles as a carry-on for airline travel. The polyester material is strong and won’t let you down even when you’re carrying such a heavy load. Although as I always say, don’t overload your backpacks even if it can take it!

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